Spines on okra?
I picked out a bunch of fresh okra at my local farmers' market and developed an intense itching on the back of my fingers, almost like an allergic reaction. The seller told me she never touches that stuff because she gets the same reaction from the tiny spines on it. Does scrubbing with a vegetable brush and cooking okra remove these spines? I'm concerned about getting the same reaction when eating okra. Should I be concerned?
No, they basically disappear when they hit boiling water, like the spines on stinging nettles. I *HATE* dealing with fresh okra (hated it even more when I had to pick it!), which is why I tend to weenie out and buy frozen for gumbo etc. However, if you want pickled okra, or even really, really good gumbo, ya gotta go for fresh. Which is yet one more reason to keep pairs of those light-but-effective rubber gloves on hand (pun intended).
Wear gloves while handling fresh okra. it's not an allergic reaction but a mechanical reaction from the spines on the base. I usually cut off the stem of the pods (unless I've got the tiny little baby ones) right at the seam line between stem & pod, and handle gently by the pod end to avoid getting prickled.
I put them on a towel, sprinkle with salt, and rub them around kind of vigorously to remove the spines/fuzzy before trying to handle them. It seems to help, and I think it makes the final texture less slimy...